Ten Rules for Designing Web Pages for Low-Bandwidth and Elderly Readers

By Rick Jelliffe
April 11, 2010

Aptivate's 2007 Ten Rules for Designing for Low-Bandwidth are:

  • No Page Bigger Than 25kB
  • Reduce Images
  • Have Good Site Structure
  • Use Style Sheets
  • Minimise HTTP Requests
  • Turn on Compression
  • Be Cache-able
  • Avoid PDFs
  • Put Useful Items First
  • Show Link Sizes

WebCredible has an interesting list (2006) Usability for Older Web Users:

  • Designers should investigate innovative ways to communicate the fact that a page is not finished and requires scrolling
  • Technical terms should be avoided if possible - and where they have to be used, a clear explanation must be easily accessible (including examples wherever appropriate)
  • Links should be identified in a consistent and obvious way (e.g. blue, bold, underline, red on mouse-over)
  • The attention-grabbing features on a page (e.g. headings, pictures, icons, instructions and bullets) should be links
  • Visited links should change colour
  • Provide an HTML-version of as much content as possible and do not require users to install software (even Adobe Acrobat) in order to be able to access information
  • Make content as concise and clear as possible - consider providing two versions of the same content ('simple' and 'detailed') and allow users to decide which they want to access
  • Sites should provide a 'Make the writing bigger' link with accompanying illustrations/icons and always use high contrast to display text e.g. black text on an off-white background
  • Provide explicit instructions by using the imperative forms of verbs (e.g. 'Go to more details on...', 'Find a...', etc.)

A few years ago, almost no material on design for elderly readers came up on Google. Now there is much more.

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